Renovation & Design

Oh, oh; Don't use tin foil in self-clean oven

Try baking soda and white vinegar

QUESTION -- I have a bit of a challenge. We have a new self-clean oven which hasn't had a lot of use yet. As my wife was out, I decided to heat up a frozen pizza for supper. It was one of those that you place directly on the grill. To protect the bottom of the stove I put some tin foil down in case some the cheese dripped down during cooking. Well I was informed after the damage was done that one of the no-no's of a self-clean oven is that you don't use tin foil. The foil has melted in to the stove and has now left a noticeable residue which I can't seem to get off. Any ideas as to what I might try to try and get the film off and maybe get back into my wife's good graces. Thanks, Blundering Bob, Rosenort.

ANSWER -- I want to give you two solutions to tackle this mess; the first is (with the oven off) sprinkle baking soda to cover the affected area well. Use enough white vinegar to wet the soda. Leave the mixture on the area for a long time; overnight, if possible. The resulting chemical reaction should do most of the work for you. If need be, repeat the procedure. Or the second solution, (with the oven OFF), soak a towel in water and lay it onto the affected area. Leave overnight and gently scrape or wipe the foil off.

QUESTION -- My daughter suspects that she has a black mould problem in her bathroom. Is there any way to ascertain that it is indeed black mould? If it is, what are the measures and precautions to take to get rid of it? Anon. Winnipeg

ANSWER -- If you detect black mould, it is important to act quickly as it can lead to health issues if it is not removed. There are many types of mould and working with a professional mould inspection company is the surest way to guarantee that mould problems in the home are identified and treated appropriately.

Any location where there may be excessive moisture or inadequate ventilation is an area prone to mould. Mould may be any colour: black, white, red, orange, yellow, blue or violet. Dab a drop of household bleach onto a suspected spot. If the stain loses its colour or disappears, it is likely mould. Humidity is the single biggest cause of black mould therefore in order to get rid of black mould in the bathroom, make sure that your fan circulates the air and keeps the humidity down.

When removing black mould from particular rooms seal it off as best you can from the surrounding areas using plastic sheeting and duct tape. Ensure that you have dampened the area you are working on to minimize the release of mould spores. Clean the area as much as possible using soap and water. Then disinfect the area with a bleach and water solution, leave for a few minutes (usually about 15 minutes) and then rinse thoroughly and dry rapidly.

When you get ready to start black mould removal, wear a facemask and rubber gloves so that you don't breathe in the black mould spores or let them touch your skin. There are removal products on the market that kill the black mould. But make sure you always read the label and follow all safety procedures for use of the product. Black mould removal is something that you may have to do several times to make sure you kill all of the spores.

QUESTION -- We have hardwood floors and have a rubber based mat or carpet at the front door (to wipe feet as one enters the house). We had our house painted last summer and prior to painting, the painter hosed down the house with a power washer. Unfortunately some water seeped under the front door and under the mat, leaving rubber marks on the hardwood floor. What can we use to get this rubber off the floor? Thanks so much in advance. Your advice is so useful. Marion, Ste. Agathe

ANSWER -- You always want to start with the easiest solution and then move towards more drastic measures only if needed. Begin by scrubbing the area with a white or pink rubber eraser. This may be all you need to remove the marks. Keep me posted!

QUESTION -- I'm looking for a solution for getting rid of the potentially decades old smell of moth balls in a recently acquired antique six plank chest. It is a beautiful rustic piece that we use as a coffee table. Unfortunately the interior reeks of moth balls (strangely the scent wasn't apparent upon purchase). I'm wondering if there is a permanent method to get rid of the smell from the chest. Perhaps letting it air out in the winter cold? To date I've tried to counter the smell with cedar balls with little success. Any ideas would be much appreciated.

Also, is there any hope for ridding the smell from games in cardboard boxes and wooden games we have stored inside the chest? Thanks for all the good work you are doing in testing and promoting safer household solutions. A big fan, Emma, Lac Du Bonnet

ANSWER -- Let's start with the antique chest, I would begin to zap the odour by washing the chest with Murphy's Oil. If the smell remains, wash the table by painting is with vinegar and a few drops of tea tree oil or straight vinegar if you do not have tea tree oil, allow the table to air dry (this has had great success). Also, place coffee ground, sprigs of eucalyptus or charcoal inside of the table to absorb odours. After a few days, remove the contents and STUFF the chest full of newspaper. Leave for at least 4 days. Another option is to purchase a product called Odorzout ( ). If the smell remains, the problem is very likely coming from old basswood which was often used in the making of interior parts of drawers and furniture frames. Over time basswood gives off a musty odour. Seal the unfinished wood on the interior of the furniture piece with a can of shellac. Apply a second coat, making sure to reach all areas of bare wood.

As for the board games; clean board games with a sponge and a little dish soap and water or white vinegar and a few drops peppermint extract. Lightly dampen the sponge and move it in a circular motion. Store a fabric softener sheet inside each board game box.

Reena Nerbas is the author of the national best sellers, "Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions", "Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets" and the soon to be released book "Household Solutions 3 the Green Edition" available on-line and in stores across Canada.


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